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I I Boundaries

Boundary making techniques'regulatethe permeability of boundaries


separatingholons.The governingconceptis the observationthat partici-
pation in the specificcontext of a specificholon requirescontext-specific
responses.People are always functioning with only part of their reper-
tory. Polential alternatives can be actualized if the individual begins to
act in another subsystem,or if the nature of his participation in a sub-
system changes.Boundary making techniquescan be airned at the psy-
chological distancebetween family members and at the duration of in-
teraction within a significant holon.

PSYCHOLOGICALDISTANCE
Often the way family members sit in a sessionindicates family mem-
bers' affiliations. This is a soft indicator, which the therapist should ac-
cept only as a first impressionthat must be investigated,corioborated,
or dismissed.The therapist will monitor spatial indicators,and also a va-
riety of others. When a family member is talking, the therapist notices
who interrupts or connpletesinformation, who supplies confirmation,
and who gives help. Threseare, again,sofbdata, but they give the thera-
pist a tentative map of who is closeto whom, what the affiIiations,coali-
tions, and overinvolveddyads or triads are in this family, and what pat-
terns expressand support the structure. He can then useeither cognitive
constructsor concretemaneuversto create new boundaries.
The therapist with the Hanson family uses a cognitive construct to
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148 Family Therapy Techniques

"Since the mother and child are usually together when you are at work,
it would be nice for you to join with me in observinghow they resolveit,"
or, "Sincethe mother and daughterare both womenand neitheryou nor
I has had experiencein being a four- or 27-year-oldfemale, the mother
must understandyour daughter better. Let's observetheir danceand see
what we can learn."
Or the therapist may decidein this situation to expand the definition
of the problem from the mother-child overinvolvernentby introducing
the father's participation in maintaining the child's symptomatology.In
this strategy,he will keep the focuson the child but increasethe father's
participation in the parental subsystemso as to separate the overin-
volved dyad. He might say to the parents,"When a four-year-oldis taller
than her mother, maybe she is sitting on the shouldersof her father," or,
"A four-year-oldis no match for her parents if they pull together," or, "If
you cannot handle a young kid, maybe you are pulling in different direc-
tions," or, "You two must be doing somethingwrong: I don't know what
it could be, but I am sure if you think together, you will find out wtrat it
is, and moreover,you will find out the solution," or, "As things go, you
are defeatingeachother, and in someway you are hurting and exploiting
a child that both of you love very much, so we will need to find a way in
which you help each other so you can help your child." This support of
the parental subsyslem aims at increasingboth the psychologicaldis-
tance between the mother and child and the proximity between the
spouses,giving them a common task as parents.
If the therapist decidesto concentrateon the spousedyad and their
dysfunctional transaction and in that way to separatethe overinvolved
mother-child dyad, he will have to handicap the child's detouring strat-
egy. He may say to the child, "You are a nice, protective, and obedient
child by misbehaving. . . having a headache. . . failing in school,when-
ever your parents fee[ uncomfortable with each other," or, "When you
explain your parents' behavior, or when you support your mother or fa-
ther, I am fascinatedhy how fast you move from being ten years old to
being 65 or 208 years old, and then running back to becomefour years
old. But isn't it strangewhen you becomeyour mother or father's gtand-
mother? I will help you grow down. Bring your chair near me and be
quiet while your parents deal with issuesthat concernthem, where you
don't have any reasonto be, and no competencewhatsoever."Or the
therapist can tell one or both of the parents, "I want you to help your
child to grow down by askingher to be quiet while you two discussyour
issues."

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r49 Boundaries

Boundariesbetweensubsystemsare also necessary,and if parents in_


trude in sibling conflicts, or adolescentsdisqualify parents or intrude
t into the spouses'area, or grandparentsjoin with grandchildrenagainst
r their parents,or spousesbring their parents into coalition againsttheir
) spouses'the therapist has available a variety of boundary making tech-
niques. Sometimes the therapist introduces a rule at the beginiing of
I therapy. He may say: "In this room, I have offi one rure. It is a small
)f rule, but apparently very difficult for this family to follow. It is that no
I person should talk for another person,or tell another person how this
i
Seffian eel.s ar t'hip.ks-People *suH t€U tl&€ir 'awn s€osye*d.ew* thek
own rnemory." Variations on this rule allow the therapist to enforce
n boundariesand to punctuatefamily members'intrusion into other mem-
bers' psychologicalspaceas "disobedienceto the ruIe." Intrusions, affil-
f iations, or coalitions can be blocked as talking for another person, or
imagining that person'sth.ughts and future actions.
The therapist may create subsystemswith different tasks. For in-
stance,if children are involved in an argument,the therapist may invite
the interfering parents to join the therapist in an observing,;.adult,'
group "becausechildren ttrink differently these days than in our time
and may have solutions that we couldn't even imagine." or he may ask
the parentsto give the children the task of resolvinga problem and, once
they have reacheda solution, to tark it over with the children, support-
ing in this manner the executivefunction of parents but also ensuring
their nonintrusiveness.or the therapist may ask one spouseto help the
other not to intrude into the children's'ilrgumentsby squeezingthe hand
of that spousewhen he intrudes, while suggestingthat they also pay
closeattention to the children's communication,so that afberthey have
finished,the parents can comment from a parental point of view. or he
may suggestthat the parents and children separately and simultane-
ously discussa family issuefrom their different points of view and that,
after they have finished, each group will teil the other how they see it,
thereby creatingtwo subsystemsthat can function simultaneouslywith-
out interfering with each ol;her.The therapist rnay join as an observer,
or as a participant in one of the groups,or may move frorn one to the
other. or the therapist may tell a grandparent that, since he has the
I wisdom of age, the therapist is interested in hearing his observations
) after he has carefully listened,without interfering, to the discussionbe-
tween parents and children.
The therapist can also use concretespatial maneuversto changethe
proximity betweenfamily members.Movementsin spaceare universally

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I 150 Family Therapy Techniques


I

recognizedas representativeof psychologicaleventsor emotional trans-


actions among people. Farnily members of different socioeconomic
groups,adults and even young children recognizethe metaphors of spa-
tial closenessor distance as expressionsof emotional connectedness.
Changingthe spatial relationshipsof family rnembersin the sessionis a
boundary making techniquethat has the advantagesof being nonverbal,
clear, and intense.The "world stops" when family membersstop what-
ever they are doing and changepositions with one another. This inter-
vention has the added advantageof high visibility for family members
who are not involved in the transaction. It has becomealmost a trade-
mark of Minuchin to move people about in a sessionand to change
placesmyself as a way of expressingchangesin my emotional connec-
tednesswith family rnembers.
The therapist may conducthimself as a spatial boundary maker, using
his arms or body to intermpt eye contact in an overinvolveddyad. This
maneuvercan be accompaniedby a changein the position of chairs so as
to handicap the senclingof signals,and it may be further reinforced by a
statement like, "You are talking to your brother; you don't needyour fa-
ther's help," or, "Since you know this event better becauseyou were
there, consult your memory instead of using your mothetr's."
The therapist may request family members to changechairs in order
to signal his support of a subsystem.For example,if the husband and
wife sit separatedby a child, he may say to the child that she should ex-
change seatswith one of her parents so that they can talk directly in-
stead of acrossher. tf the therapist makeshis directive clear and logical,
family membersusually comply. The therapist may get up and decrease
his distancefrom the personof whom he requeststhe changeif he thinks
that this is necessaly.This changein proximity between the therapist
and the family mem.bersmakesresistancemore difficult.
In therapy, these techniques are not clearly separated;generally, in
fact, they mix with and reinforce each other. The Smith family with a
psychosomaticchild is a casein point.

Therapisf; Mr. Karig, you seernto have a differenceof opinion


with your wife about that. Speak with her about your differ-
ences of opinion. (General laughter fro* all four teenage
children and the parents.)
Father: That's funny, becausewe never talk to each other.
(1) Therapisf; Well, you need to now, to resolve this diff'erencebe-
tween.you.

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151 Boundaries

Father (to therapisf); I believethat Jerry-(Therapist indicates


that husband should talk to wife. Husband glances at his
(2) spouseand continues talking to the therapist. Seueral chit-
dren begin maleingnoises.)
Therapisf; No, speak to your wife. we will all listen, but you
must speak with your wife. (Makes a gesture that diuides
(3,4,5) the parents from, both himself and the rest of the famity.\
Father (to theraplsf): I know it's important, but it seems-
S Therapisf: No. Here, turn your chair a little so it's easierto see
her, {H#i,Ee kend tarn kie e.lzelr.} And 5r€ru,too, Mse.
f (6,7) Karig. (Rotates her chair so she faees her husband. At this
(8) point the therapist turns his head and looks out the window.
All the children remain silent.\
J
) Father (turning and addressing his wife'\: It seems like every
s time we start talking we end up saying things-
J Mother (to husband); Who is usually right? Just answer rrre
I that.

This sequence,which takes about thirty seconds,contains at least


eight boundary-making operations. The therapist verbally delineates
the husband-wifesubsystem(1), reinforcesit with a hand gesture (2),
and repeatsit verbally (3). The children are excludedwith both a verbal
suggestionand hand gestures(4,5).The parents are realigned spatially
to face each other and pu.t their backsto the children (6,?).Finally, the
therapist withdraws his contact by averting his head (8), whereuponthe
couplebeginan extendeddiscussionwithout interruption. The boundary
making is successfulbecausethe therapist usesa variety of rnaneuvers
until the desiredisolation of husbandand wife is accornplished.If one of
the children persistsin interrupting, the therapist may use his body to
5
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block the interruption, or move the child's chair farther away from the
,lu parents, or ask her to turn her chair to face another sibling, or tell the
parents,"Invite one of your children to comment only when both of you
agree to allow this." If the parents comply, then the therapist is no
longer neededas a boundary maker. They will be doing it themselves.
Boundary making in this session,though conceptuallysimple, is very
difficult for the therapist becausehe feelspressurefrom both spousesto
join their subsystem.After he has askedthe husbandand wife to talk to-
gether,they continue talking to the therapist. If he respondsto them, he
will support the dysfunctional transactionthat alwaysincludes another

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Farnily Therapy Techniques

member to avoid conflict. In fact, he will undo what he is seekingto ac-


complish. The therapist in this segment avoids eye contact by looking
out the window. For a therapist who in similar situationsdoesnot have a
window available, concentration on a favorite toe would serve equally
well, or take notes or doodle.
In the Brown family, the boundary making occursaround the father-
daughter dyad. The family is seekinghelp for their l4-year-old daughter,
Bonnie, who has been referred for intractable asthma. Her sisters,aged
18 and L7, are presentin the session.Bonnie and her father begin a con-
versation about her school work. Halfway through the first exchange,
their conversationactivates the other farnily rnembers.One sister says
pertly that Bonnie should not have taken math. The mother assailsthe
father for not helping Bonnie with her work. The other sister srarrs
talking about her own school work.
The therapist, Ronald Liebman, moves Bonnie's chair so that she is
facing her father and tells the father and daughter to continue their con-
versation.When the oldest sister tries to intervene,the therapist saysto
Bonnie, "This is between you and your father. Whenever you try to
make your voice heard, your helpful family shuts you up with their
helpfulness.Don't Iet them do that to you.'f The father and daughter
continue, and shortly afberwardthe mother begins to speak. Liebman
holds his hand up, signalingthat the conversationis betweenBonnie and
her father. The next time someone interrupts, Bonnie herself says,
"Wait a minute, please."The boundary making is now maintained by a
family member"
In drawing a boundary around the father-daughterdyad, the therapist
first usesa spatial arrangement.He rnovesBonnie's chair, demarcatinga
subsystem:father and youngestdaughter.This rnakestalking easierfor
the two and harder for those who would interrupt. Then he instructs
Bonnie to delineatea boundary around her conversation.Later, he sig-
nals the others to stay out.
He could have done this in other ways.He could have askedthe father
to keep the others out, or he could have kept thern out himself, or both.
These would be essentiallyisomorphic interventions, and the reasons
that the therapist selectsone and not the others are idiosyncratic to the
particular therapist in a particular context.The therapist also effectively
useshis presenceto etch boundariesby selectivelydirecting his atten-
tion to the conversation between father and daughter. When others
speak,he pays no attention. He gives cognitive corollaries to his inter-

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153 Boundaries

ventions by calling to the attention of Bonnie and all other family mem-
t
5 . bers the incapacitatingeffectsthat their help has on Bonnie.
:l -,{i :'With the Brown family, the therapist usesa number of techniquesfor
,| 'ti
',rvt 4r "' boundary making: rearrangementof physical spaceto indicate subsys-
'
tems, utilization of himself to protect the subsystemfrom the intrusion
of other family subsystems,and a reasonfor his support of the subsys-
tem. The first two interventions are concretemaneuvers,the last a cog-
nitive construct.In this situation they are sufficientto activate a family
member, Bonnie, to protect the father-daughtersubsystem.trn the
, tfiempe'utic precess, a nunTbercf different bourdary'ma.king techniq*ses
5
will need to be employed and used repeatedly before they can acLrieve
sufficient intensity to producestructural change.
l At times,the utilization of spatial metaphorsmay take the form of the
rearrangementof chairs in two circlesto protect two subsystemssimul-
taneously,or the turning of a chair 180o to isolate or protect a member,
or the removal of an empty chair or an ashtray or a pocketbook from
betweenspousesto indicate the needfor proximity. The closenessof the
therapist to a member,his kneelingor touching her, or his standinghigh
above her are all indicators of connectedness that do not require verbal
or cognitive qualifiers.
In situations in which the executivesubsystemincludesan incompe-
tent member and an intrusive, helpfiJ, and competent member, the
therapist may ask the "competent one" to observe from beyond the
one-waymirror how the "helpless" member handlesthings when she is
without the "competent" help. Another nonverbaltechniqueis simply to
ask parents to bring to the sessiononly certain membersof the farnil3"
and not others,indicating in that way a separationof subsystems.Or the
therapist may indicate who is to participate in different sessions.
In certain families with a chaotic style of communication,where theire
is continual inte,rmption arrsimultaneoustalking, the therapist may find
that the threshold of noiseis abovehis capacityfor comfortablecornmu-
nication. He can then use artificial devices,such as inventing a game in
I Whichpeoplesit silently in a circle and only a dyad or a triad may go into
the middle to communicate;or the therapist provides the participants
with an objecu''ihat,chalk, key) to indicate which family membershave
the right to taik. In addition, wheneverthe stresstrna sessionincreases
beyond the therapistfscapacityto be effective,a brlninution in the num=
ber of participants immediately createsa different subsystemwith dif-
ferent alternativesfor the reduction of stress.

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L54 Family Therapy Techniques

DURATION OF INTERACTION
Extending or lengtheninga process,which is one way of increasingits
intensity, ffiaY also he utilized to demarcate subsystemsor to separate
them. In thesesituations,the content of the transactionis lessirnportant
than the fact that the transaction occurs.
In the Kuehn family, after the mother is able effectivelyto control her
daughter, the therapist brings in puppets and encouragesthe mother
and daughter to play. This processis kept up for over r\4'entyminutes
without any intermption by the therapist, except for the introduction
after ten minutes of the father as a playmate. The therapist is concerned
not with the content of the transaction but only with keeping first the
mother-daughterholon and later the mother-father-daughterholon in a
pleasurablesituation long enough to establish a complernentarycoun-
terpoint with the accustomedcontrolling rnother-daughtersubsysrem.
The previous techniques occur within the therapeutic system in the
therapist's presence.The therapist is involved in monitoring the bound-
aries, if he is not actually a boundary himsetf. But to be effective,ther-
apy must be maintained outside of the session.When a therapist is con-
cerned with maintaining a particular subsystern,he may give the family
homework to support the processesinitiated in the session.His "ghost"
then carries the thera.peutictask. Practicing unaccustomedtransactions
in a natural setting facilitates structural change.
Like techniquesusedwithin the session,interventions outsidethe ses-
sion can affect affiliations in spaceor time. In the Pulaski farniJy,a wid-
owed mother is overinvolved with her hypochondriacal lg-year-old
' i r
daughter. The therapist gives the mother a task: find somethjng to do
that involves only herself.The mother, who is somewhatoverweight,in-
forms the therapist at the next t she has joined a diet group.
The task in this situation i up to the mother to select
what is appropriate withirr her own life ntext. A task to increasethe
proximity of spousescould be an assignmen ch is to relate for a week
in a way that will give satisfactionto the ot but without telling the
other what the plan is. In the next session,the sesare askedto de-
scribethe changesin eachother.
In other cases,the therapist will in-
stance,in a family with an overinvolved er-sondyad with a periph-
eral husband,the therapist may direct the father to help the boy with his
homework, or contro.l the boy when he misbehaves,or teach the boy
how to play soccer on"do carpentry, with the explanation that, ,,since
you are a man and your son will grow to be a rnan, you should discipline

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IOD Boundaries

. . . or teach . . . or play with him for the next week." A task of this sort
can be supported by a statement of concern for the mother, such as,
"since your wife has been working so hard with Billy, it is important
that she should take a week or two of rest." The specificationof a time
Ifunit givesthe family the framework of transition and experimentation
and facilitates their participation in the searchfor alternative solutions.
A different techniquefor creating boundariesin overinvolveddyadsis
the use of paradoxicaltasks,in which the therapist suggestsor directs an
increasein the proximity of family membersof an overinvolveddyad or
e+*beyetem.F€,r'k*et&s€€-she m*y drs€€€an everpr.etee€ivemotlrer eo irr-
creaseher attention to a child's minor needs,or instruct an overinvolved
spouseto keep close.rtrack of his spouse'swhereabouts.The aim of this
technique is to increasethe conflict betweenparticipants,which will be
followed by an increasein their distance.
Various techniques of boundary making are used with the Hanson
family, after the therapist has asked Alan to talk to his father.

Alan: Would you give me a hand, Peg?


Peg: Tell Daddy that you want to make decisionsby yourself. If you
really want to do it.
Alan: Yeah, I would like to be more independent,but I guessit's a habit
of letting people do things for me, and I've gotten into it.
Peg: And I guessit's going to be very hard for Daddy to stop. It will be
hard for all of us, but especiallyDaddy, becausehe and Mommy tend
more to be protective.And it's goingto take a long tirne, and it's going
to take a lot on your part, too, to make decisionsand say, "'Well,Iook, I
don't want Peg to help." You can't be afraid to say it.
AIan: Yeah.
Minuchin: Peg, do you find yourself frequently in the job of being the
helper?
Peg: Yes.
Minuchin: Who else is askingyou for hetp'/
Peg: Uh-my mother.

The therapist tries to utilize a sibling to separateAIan foornhis over-


protective and handicappingfather. The content of their discussionis
one of separation and individuation, but the therapist notes that Peg
herself seemsextremely comfortable in the role of helper. He assumes
that Peg may also participate with other family membersin the mainte-
nanceof dysfunctionaltransactions.His explorationof this hunch brings

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156 Family Therapy Techniques

forth the mother's utilization of Peg to maintain her own distancefrom


her husband.

Minuchin: Pete, exchangeseats with your mom, becauseI wanr your


mother to talk with Peg. (Pete unhooks his microphone to change
chairs, and Peg starts to help him.) No, let him do it. (To Pete.) Very
good.You did it on your own, Nobody helpedyou. Maybe you will still
be safe,Pete, sincenobody will help you. Mom, talk with Peg because
I think Peg gets herself saddledwith helping a lot in the family.

Since the therapist, by this point in the session,has seen thab three
dyadic subsystemsin the farnily operate with intrusive overprotection,
he will automatically look at all transactionsthat occur in terms of their
ability to support or curtail competenceand autonomy. As a result, he
supports Pete's autonomy by blocking the unnecessaryhelp from Peg
and by affiliating with him in his competence.Then the therapist moves
back to the mother-daughtersubsystem.

Mother: She does.P"g wants-


Minuchin: Talk with her about how you saddleher.
Mother: About how I saddleher with the problems?
Minuchin: Yeah.
Peg: Right. WeIl, I never realized it. It just happened that grand-
mother-
Mother: My mother usedto live with us, and she was around all the time
when Peg was growingup, and then when she wasn't there, I just auto-
matically usedto ask Peg-I didn't realizethat I was putting pressure
on Peg. I thought it was more or lessconversation.Right, Peg?
Peg: Maybe you di{n't realizeit, but I knew that you wanted rne to help
you decidethings.
Mother: I always consideredit more like we would talk over things to-
gether and then I would make rny own decision,but I think maybe you
felt that it was left on your shouldersto make the decision.
Peg: A lot of times you did. You would say, "What do you think I should
do?" or, "What do you think about this?" And I made a lot of deci-
sions.

It becomesclear ttrat the dyads-Kathy-Alan, Alan-father, Peg-Alan,


Peg-mother,and mother-grandmother-all have a similar organization
and that this is a family in which the enmeshmenthampers differentia-

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L57 Boundaries

tion. The therapist assurnesthat if Peg has replacedher grandmotherin


her relationship with her mother, she may be fiIling a vacuum in the
mother'slife createdby a disengaged husband.The therapistgoeson to
investigatethe functioning of the spousesubsystern.

Minuchin; You did ask Peg to make decisions?


Mother: Not about important things, like about if you,re going to buy a
houseor somethinglike that, but about-
Peg: About family things.
Mother: Yeah.
Minuchiu Family things. She would ask you?
Mother: Yes-I would asl<her to help.
Minuchin: Father, where were you? You that are so helpful. you that
are helping Alan. where were you? why didn't your wife ask you?
Father: I wasn't around too much then.
Minuchin; oh, that's why.Are you sayingthat you were alone and that
you usedPeg becauseNels was not around?
Mother: Nels was working two jobs for a long time. He's alwaysworking
two jobs, but now he has more of an interest in the house.I feel Nels
has time if it's something he's interested in, and if it's something he
doesn't want to think about, he's just not there to hear it.
Minuchin: Peg,comehere and move out from that center.Mom, you sit
near your husband.You know, Peg,I think that it's a pity for you to be
sitting here betweenthem. I bet that you are too available.I bet you
like that job.

The therapist changesthe spatial arrangementof Peg, husband, and


wife, separatingthe daughterfrom the spousesubsystern.He also givesa
cognitive construct supporting his spatial metaphor. His strategy o:f
working with dyads has eniciteda picture of the mother-Peg subsystem
as a structure inherited from the mother-grandmothersubsystem.Bottr
structures have kept the husband and wife at a comfortable distance
from each other. The therapist continuesactivating the spousesubsys-
tem.

Mother: How do you think we can go about correcting this mess?


Father: WelI, I think I should start being home nights for one thing. I'tl
leave the other job-
Minuchin: Can you stop shakingyour head,Peg?It's not your function.

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158 Family TherapyTechniques

The therapist blocks Peg frorn taking her habitual position as the
thhd person in the spousesubsystem.

Father: Much as I feel I have to changean awful lot, I think you have to
change.
Mother: In what way?
Father: Oh, general mannerisrns,your attitude toward me personally. I
feel very deeply hu:rt many tirnes.
Mother: How?
Father: I feel you don't feel I am a fuII man-a full husband. I feel you
look down on me rnany, many times.
Mother: How do I act that makes you feel I look down on you?
Father: Sometimesyou don't have to act, you can just look.
Mother: But I don't understandwhat-like what do I do that givesyou
that impression? How do I-<bviously I-
Father: I'm trying to look for an answer here.

The problem has now been transformed frorn a problem of a young


man with severepsychological difrculties to a problem of a family with
dysfunctional rules and subsysternsthat are not working as well as they
might. As the problem has been transformed, so has the therapist's job.
In the first part of the interview, it was indeed the therapist's job to
spread the problem arnongfamily members,to reframe it so that what
has been describedas a problem of one becomesa problem of the family.
Now the therapist must challengethe family organizationthat n<eeps the
father peripheral. Unlessthe spousesare able to function well, indepen-
dent of the children, Alan, Peg,Kathy, and Pete will have difficulty dif-
ferentiating and separatingfrorn the family.

Father: You are not respectful of me.


Mother: I don't think I'm not respectfulwith you. I don't mean to be not
respectfulof you.
Minuchin: You said that she doesn't treat you as a full man. You make
Nels feel that you are not on his side. i
Mother: And I guess I have feelings that he doesn't understand me,
either.
Father: I think we've been throwing this back at each other for a long,
long time, and it's-
Minuchin: You have not been helpful. You, Peg,have not been helpful.

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159 Boundaries

when the spousesget stuck in their blame-counterblame


set, the
therapist highlights Peg's triangulated position as a
supporter of the
husband-wifehomeostasisand her lack of alternatives.

Peg. What do you mean?Now? Or in the past?


Minuchin: whenever Mom choseto talk with you instead
of talking with
Dad. will you resignfrom that job or are you stuck
with it?
Peg: r don't know. Let me think for a min,,te. I
don't think thar my
rnother is goingto stop-
Minuchin: Using you?
Peg. Yes, you're right.
Minuchin: It's a job that you like for life? Do you want that job
for life?
Peg: No, becauseI'rn n.t her mother. I'm ottty zr years ord.
If I wanted
to be the mother, f'd get manied.

The therapeutic affiliation with peg acts to separatethe mother


and
Peg.Peg then requestsage-appropriate autonomy.

Minuchin: she's not using you as a mother really. she usesyou


when
she feelsshe doesnot know how to talk with your father. (Ti parents.)
so Peg is in betweenboth of you. who is on the other side?
Father: Oh, Peg is there with her rnother and the mother is
with peg.
Minuchin; What about the other ones?
Father: Pete is fairly independent.He,Il speakhis piece.And Kathy
is_
I'd sayshe'lllook at both sides.Alan will form an opinion,I feel,but he
will keep it insidehim rather than take sides.
Minuchin; Do you think he is taking sides but he is keeping it
silent?
Father: I feel so.
Minuchin; And with whom is he siding?
Father: I think AIan feels about his mother like I do. I honestiy,
sin-
cerely feel that. I don't think he wants to take sides,but I feel Alan
feelsa lot of times I may be right, but he'll neversav it.

The therapist'ssimple strategyof boundary making throughout this


sessionhighlightsa dynamic of triangulationsupporting,urr"r" pathol-
ogy. The developmentof the spousesubsystemwas handicapp"di' thu
beginningof the marriageby the mother,smother, who lived with the
coupleand joined in a coalitionwith her daughteragainsther husband.
The children growing up in the family joined with the mother-grand-
mother subsystem,while the father choselife as a workaholic and also

b{8
160 Family Therapy Techniques

an aicoholic,which maintained him in the family as a disengagedmem-


ber. Alan chosea coalition with the losing side.But the drama of choos-
ing sidesis played out daily in silence,in highly nonvisibletransactions.
Now that the therapist has a ffiap, identifying the problem of the family
and the goals of therapy, he can, with a measure of wisdom, lead the
family out of its dilficulties.
The techniquesof boundary making are easily learnedand can there-
fore be used effectivelyeven by therapists who do not have theoretical
structure to order and integrate the phenomena they observe or pro-
duce.But in suchcases,boundarymaking,evenwhen elegantlyrealized,
remains an isolated phenomenon.The point of boundary making is not
that it is possible,but that it is done for a reason.If the therapist knows
where he is going,he will find the vehicle.

ni

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